Post submitted by Saurav Jung Thapa, former Associate Director, HRC Global
PinkNews reported earlier this month that a pro-LGBTQ hashtag in Arabic has been trending in Saudi Arabia, a conservative Muslim theocracy and one of the most inhospitable places in the world for LGBTQ people.
The hashtag, translated as “I love gays and I am not one of them,” was the number one trending Twitter hashtag in Saudi Arabia earlier this month. It was also the fourth highest trending hashtag in the world in the same period.
Many Twitter users expressed solidarity with LGBTQ people in response to the hashtag.
The unlikely popularity of the pro-LGBTQ hashtag in Saudi Arabia is remarkable given the country’s oppressive social mores and laws that criminalize LGBTQ people. Adult men convicted of engaging in consensual same-sex sexual activity face a variety of harsh punishments such as flogging, whipping, torture, castration and fines. If convicted twice, they may be executed.
In April 2016, a bipartisan group of 33 U.S. legislators sent a letter to the Saudi Ambassador to the United States expressing concern about reports of abuses against LGBTQ people. HRC Director of Government Affairs David Stacy responded to the letter: “LGBTQ people in the Middle East continue to face enormous challenges, from social stigma to persecution and violence….with the rise of ISIL and other jihadist groups in the region, the pressure has gotten worse, and it is crucial that we stand up for the human rights of Saudi LGBT people."
HRC is committed to advocating for the rights of LGBTQ people in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and around the globe. HRC Global advocates for LGBTQ equality around the world through fellowships, partnerships and research. Read more about our work here.